Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane, New Orleans, United States 21 Aug 2019 - 14 Dec 2019
'LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint is Family'
Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University presents LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint is Family. Opening August 21, 2019 with a scheduled run through December 14, 2019.
In 2016, artist, activist, and MacArthur genius awardee LaToya Ruby Frazier spent five months living in Flint, Michigan with three generations of women–the poet Shea Cobb, her mother Renee, and daughter Zion–observing their day-to-day lives as they endured one of the most devastating ecological disasters in US history: the water crisis in their hometown. The artistic result of Frazier’s time there is reflected in the works presented in Flint is Family.
“Through photographs, videos, and text I use my artwork as a platform to advocate for others, the oppressed, the disenfranchised,” says Frazier. In Flint is Family, Frazier explores at the level of community, the effects of the water crisis in Flint–where black residents make up 54% of the population and 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. “When I encounter an individual or family facing inequality, I create visibility through images and story-telling to expose the violation of their rights.”
By portraying the daily struggles of the Cobb family, Frazier used a tight focus to create a story about the impact of a systemic problem disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Citing the social documentary work of Gordon Parks’ and Ralph Ellison’s 1948 Harlem is Nowhere–which highlighted the social and economic effects of racism and segregation–as an influence, Frazier rejected the voyeuristic photographs that emerged from outside media sources and instead collaborated closely with her subjects through photographs, capturing intimate moments along with the myriad challenges the family faced without access to clean water.
“By hosting the Louisiana premiere of Frazier’s work at the Newcomb Art Museum,” says Monica Ramirez-Montagut, museum director, “we are bringing meaningful, enriching, and transformative exhibitions of socially-engaged art that explores the concerns of communities both on and off campus, as well as recognizing underrepresented communities and the contributions of women to the field. Frazier’s artistic practice centers on the nexus of social justice and cultural change and tells an important story of the American experience that certainly echoes with our own Louisiana environmental crisis and pollution.”
LaToya Ruby Frazier (American b. 1982, Braddock, Pennsylvania) received her BFA in applied media arts from the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and her MFA in art photography from Syracuse University. She is the recipient of many awards and has received fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Fellows Program as well as the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.